Jeff King Hated Baseball
In honor of Opening Day, this is one of the wilder stories I've read about.a player. And it happened with my Kansas City Royals:
On May 21, 1999 Jeff King suddenly and shockingly retired. He seemed healthy, and he seemed to be having a reasonably successful year — he was on a little six-game hitting streak at the time. It didn’t make a lot of sense … unless you realized how much he despised playing professional baseball. He couldn’t wait to get out. Later someone told me that he had, only the day before he retired, secured enough service time to guarantee his MLB pension.
Joe Posnanski retold the story a few years later:
His manager in Kansas City, Tony Muser, would remember him talking about how he didn’t exactly love the national anthem.
Muser, a Marine, was shocked. Then King explained.
“Every time I hear this song,” he said, “I have a bad day.”
King retired a month into the 1999 season; he was having back problems, which undoubtedly had something to do with it. But it was no coincidence that he retired 10 years almost to the day of his big league debut. He retired almost the minute his big-league pension had kicked in, and he moved to a ranch in Montana. He had literally been counting the days.
“My heart just wasn’t it,” he told a reporter a few years later.